What’s coming up in March?


The calendar of major art auctions has been underway since the end of January, in particular with the sale of Botticelli’s superb The Man of Sorrows, a masterpiece that fetched $45.4 million at Sotheby’s New York at the end of January. Nevertheless, the pace will accelerate in 15 days: Christie’s and Sotheby’s are once again competing to present extraordinary works and animate the auction world as of 1 March.


Christie’s, between London and Shanghai

On 1 March, Christie’s will be hosting three major sales, two of which bridge the London and Shanghai branches:

  • 20th/21st Century: Shanghai Evening Sale
  • 20th/21st Century: London Evening Sale
  • The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale, London

The all-Surrealist sale features 22 masterpieces, including five paintings by René Magritte, whose signature has never been so much in demand. Another highlight of this sale will be a canvas from Pablo PICASSO’s Surrealist period expected to fetch between 19 and 32 million dollars. Entitled La fenêtre ouverte, the painting dates from 1929 when Picasso was still married to Olga Khokhlova although already engaged for two years in a passionate love affair with the young Marie-Thérèse Walter. After being exhibited in Hong Kong, the canvas will be shown in London (23 to 28 February) before it goes on sale.

Christie’s “20th/21st Century” sessions are naturally denser, including current creations and mixing “blue chip” with “red chip” artists. We thus find the hottest artists on the market, from Banksy to Amoako Boafo, alongside the classic signatures of the 20th century like Pablo Picasso and Egon Schiele.

The big highlight of these Christie’s sales is a triptych by Francis BACON painted in 1986-1987 and estimated at between 47 and 74 million dollars. The masterpiece will be making its first appearance at auction, having been purchased from Marlborough International Fine Art, Vaduz, in 2007 (Triptych 1986-7).

From its Shanghai branch, Christie’s will be offering its best Jean-Michel BASQUIAT: Il Duce, a large canvas from 1982 estimated between 12.6 and 19 million dollars. While major Basquiat paintings are already setting records from Hong Kong, this is the first to be auctioned in mainland China.

Monet, Glaçons, environs de Bennecourt. 5,000,000-7,000,000 GBP. Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s, from Monet to Banksy

In March, Sotheby’s will be hosting a series of auctions featuring masterpieces spanning more than a century of artistic creativity. Led by a 1961 René Magritte masterpiece, The Empire of Lights, the sales will include works from the major artistic movements of the 20th and 21st centuries: from the innovations of the Impressionists to works by today’s most ‘emerging’ artists.

On 2 March, Sotheby’s will be offering three BANKSY lots from the Robbie Williams Collection. The singer reportedly acquired Kissing Coppers, Girl with Balloon and Vandalized Oils (Choppers) shortly after they were created in the years 2005-2006. According to Sotheby’s, their sale should draw between 7 and 10 million pounds sterling (between 9 and 13 million dollars approximately). According to Artprice, Banksy, whose auction record reached $25.4 million last year, stands out as the most popular artist on the art market (with a record number of transactions in 2021) and as one of the 10 most successful artists in the world, based on an annual auction turnover of $205.8 million in 2021.

The same day in London, Sotheby’s will be offering an exceptional work by René MAGRITTE, L’Empire des lumières (Empire of Lights) with an estimate of 60 million dollars. Before it goes on sale, the painting is continuing its world tour, being publicly exhibited in Sotheby’s galleries in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, New York and, lastly, London.

Created in 1961 for Baroness Anne-Marie Gillion Crowet, the daughter of Magritte’s patron, Belgian Surrealist collector Pierre Crowet, the work has remained in the family ever since.

There is no doubt that the masterpiece is destined to set a new record for the Belgian artist. If it reaches the $60 million threshold announced by Sotheby’s, it would demolish Magritte’s previous record of $24.6 million for his canvas A la Rencontre du Plaisir (1962), sold in 2020, at Christie’s in London.

René Magritte: price index. Copyright Artprice.com

Another highlight of the sale on 2 March will be five exceptional paintings by Claude MONET from the same private collection that are collectively expected to fetch around $50 million. According to Sotheby’s, the works – all pre-1900 – epitomize the ‘Modern’ Monet who had such a profound influence on later artists and movements. A veritable pillar of prestige sales, Monet is one of the most highly rated and successful artists with an annual turnover of $305 million in 2021 from just 26 canvases sold. His works engage collectors all over the world, with a significant demand in Asia.

At the end of November 2021, a 1913 painting by Monet from his Water Lilies series (Bassin aux nymphéas, les rosiers) became the most expensive Western work ever sold at auction in mainland China. It was offered in the very first sale of Impressionist and Modern Art organized by the Chinese auction house China Guardian, and sold for the equivalent of 24 million dollars.